“All for one, and one for all.” This quote by Alexandre Dumas sums up the effort of my siblings and I to stay online in Cambodia.
It’s a team effort. We want to maximize our time and money by not getting lost and paying high transportation fare.
The result: We didn’t use all the pocket money (US dollars) but we still get lost close to our hotel (something we would always laugh at).
To accomplish the task of having Wifi all the time, we brought (from the Philippines) and bought (in Cambodia) some things in our trip.
- Android phone and iPhone
- Power bank
- Local SIM Card in Cambodia
- Portable Wifi
- Chargers and cables
All of these things are part of our travel gear that fits into my CabinZero backpack.
“Greater bag space comes with greater responsibility.”
I tweaked a bit a quote to define my role, not that, whoever said it first would mind.
3 Ways to Stay Online in Cambodia
I’ll show how we used the things I mentioned to stay connected to the Internet whenever we want to in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
1. Get a Local SIM Card
It was a blessing that my brother had to get an Android phone because his iPhone kicked the bucket.
His Samsung can accommodate dual SIM.
When we arrived at Siem Reap International Airport, we bought a local SIM card (SMART) for USD 5.00 outside the airport, in the waiting area. Surprisingly, the area where we hang out a bit is not crowded. Or was it because it’s almost midnight.
It’s easy to get a SIM card. Hand over your phone and passport and the staff will set up everything. It amazes me that somehow they know how to use all kind of smartphones.
Getting a local SIM card is the cheapest and most convenient way to have Wifi.
Don’t skip this task. you might need to also make a phone call to a local number in Cambodia while you are out and about.
2. Turn on Data Roaming
This should be your last resort.
Using data roaming of your mobile provider is the most expensive way to have a Wifi.
Phone plans in Canada is one of highest rate worldwide. We politely admit it and wish we (or just me) can also have Google Fi.
My carrier is Fido that comes with data roaming. It’s easy to use yet pricey for a long trip. So I’m avoiding data roaming unless it’s a matter of getting stuck on my own.
For Fido, data roaming costs CAD 12.00/day for international destination and CAD 7.00 anywhere in the United States.
How to Turn Data Roaming on in iPhone
- Go to Settings > Cellular.
- Turn on Cellular Data.
- Set Cellular Data Options from Roaming Off to On.
- Set Data Roaming to On.
Data roaming might be cheaper in your country but it’s best to get a local SIM card instead or have a portable Wifi.
3. Use Portable Wifi
While I was looking for a tour in Siem Reap using Klook app I also stumbled upon a mobile Wifi. Initially, using a portable Wifi is the only way I plan to stay connected to the Internet.
So I was ecstatic to booked two tours in Cambodia (temples and waterfalls) and also ordered the portable Wifi.
Yes. You have to rent the device and pay for post-paid data.
How to Get a Portable Wifi
- Download Klook on your phone or go to the website.
- Choose what data plan you want. For CAD 43.42, I chose 4G Wifi (1Gb) for five days.
- Choose the delivery date and time carefully. Make sure you (or somebody else) are present to receive the portable Wifi.
- Pay a security deposit of Php 500.00 upon the delivery of the device.
- Keep the receipt and read the manual. It is easy to use. There’s a power button and LED indicators for signal and battery.
- Use it in Siem Reap. We used it almost anywhere we go and didn’t have an issue with signal or the device.
- Wait for the pick up day, usually two days after the last day of usage of data plan. You should get the security deposit back.
It’s that easy to use a portable Wifi. The device is called Skyroam which made me think of buying my own and directly paying the data plan online.
So I wouldn’t have to rent; I can use Skyroam anytime, anywhere.
- Skyroam Solis – USD 149.99
- Skyroam Solis X – USD 179.99
What? Why is it so expensive. I’ll save for it or look for a cheaper device but Solis X looks great.
What If You Don’t Get Your Security Deposit Back
I didn’t get my security deposit back during the pick-up day so I sent an email immediately.
The local operator of the device is Big Sky Nation. I received a fast response from them asking my bank account so they can transfer Php 500.00 back to me.
Fortunately, I was able to set up a PNB account in Calgary. Everyone one should have a Philippine bank account especially OFWs. When I checked my PNB online account within a week, the amount was debited. What a relief. Everything was done online.
Note: While the deposit is cheap, losing the device and accessories is not. Be extra careful.
Lose your umbrella (like us) but not your rented portable Wifi.
Which is the Best for You
I say having a local SIM card is the best way to stay connected.
But not everyone (iOS fans including myself) has a dual SIM phone. If you are using an iPhone, have it unlock before the trip.
You can also buy a cheap phone in your destination. It might be a splurge but you can still use it in other trips afterwards.
The next best thing to use is a portable Wifi. Digital nomads have been using this device to work remotely.
It is better than using a data roaming which you have no control over.
Imagine how easy it is to turn on and off the data roaming on a phone. It’s tempting to check emails or Facebook or watch a dog watching himself on TV (it did happen, I just watched it). Remember data roaming charge per day or per use. Per use is more costly for a long trip.
If all else fail, use data roaming and cry over the charge. It’s best to stay safe and have fun in the trip despite of some setbacks.
Choose fond memories not materials.
What method do you use to connect to family and friends while on vacation?